Education Stories

 

Education 1

ISSUES FACED:

* Slow internet speeds & unreliable connections

* Limited Data – most rural families are limited to 25GB of data/month

* Very expensive – Telstra Satellite customers pay $69 per GB

* Not being aware of options available
IMPACTS:

* Families being split up (Mum & Kids moving to town, Dad staying on property).

* Kids being send to boarding school earlier than planned (leading to increased financial burden to families).

* Tertiary students not completing studies or not enrolling as they can’t meet online requirements.

* Families driving long distances on rough roads to access education.

* Families leaving the bush.

* Slow connections causing drop outs for distance education kids on online lessons.

* Lack of data means distance education kids can’t access online lessons.

* Parents / home tutors required to deliver more of the distance education curriculum because kids can’t connect to their teachers.

* Distance Education students doing school in cars, after having been driven to pick up mobile service as their connection at home drops out too much or they have no data left.

* Regional students not being able to complete online homework tasks essential for their learning

* The national curriculum has moved faster than the technology available to regional students, and these students are now being left behind.

* Secondary students unable to complete research assignments.

* Causing lots of stress and frustration on home tutors who are usually also the student’s parents, fast becoming a mental health issue.

* Creating an extra financial burden on families.

* Lack of understanding by education, departments and teachers of the #datadrought, schools turning children away from enrolling because they can’t access the required internet.

* Students participating in fewer online activities as they don’t have enough data, some are not participating in ‘on air’ lessons with classmates and face to face teacher time due to lack of data and dropouts. Others have been forced to turn webcams off for all lessons so they have enough data to get through.

WA:TANYA: Have been wanting to add to this for awhile but have had our internet suspended due to the fair use policy……we are 140kms east of Geraldton in Western Australia.

I have had the pleasure of home schooling my four children over the years, but this year would be the year I wished things were different. I am now down to having two children being schooled through SIDE out of Perth, both in middle school years… Their work is all internet based, from set work to air lessons and between them they have 16 of those each week…….every second week they have an additional two. Unfortunately although we are on the biggest plan that Active8 can offer, two weeks into our month our internet usage is nearly all gone, air lessons become very trying for all involved, work is unable to be loaded for submitting for grading this then results in letters of concern from teachers even though we have explained our situation to them. This term we were lucky enough to have some books sent out but we still need Internet access as there is a lot of links for them to look at on the net. My alternative when our internet has been slowed or suspended is to make the 80km round trip to town to gain access through our BigPond mobile service, doing lessons either in the car or st our local CRC. Not the most practical for us as I also work here on out farm. One of our daughters suffer with OCD, her anxiety becomes so much worse when the pressure is on and boarding school is definitely not an option for her, plus financially not an option either. We see adds on TV about these huge plans that NBN are offering and I wonder how is people that don’t need the usage can have so much while us as rural and remote users do not have that opportunity. Our children are more disadvantaged than people think. The options available for home schoolers are huge but the access is so minimal. I would give anything to make the education of my children an easy fun experience…. Not a torturous one!

WA: TARAETA: ‪ I completed my Bachelor of Arts (Internet Communication) via Open Universities (OUA). Being completely online there were times that I was unable to access the internet due to intermittent connection. Our data usage was extremely high during these times. Often I wouldn’t watch online lectures or download all the required readings because our data usage had exceeded the maximum plan available at the time. We had two different providers available to us (Telstra and now defunct BroadbandNet) and held plans with both providers to get us through what is now known as the #datadrought. Having an alternative provider if one providers system failed. One was part of the Mobile Broadband Network the other was a radio relay type system, both independent of each other. Sometimes they both failed together, sometimes we ran out of data on both. I would only ever participate in online collaboration via writing, never video conference due to the higher impact on the data allowances. Learning online and being able to obtain a degree from Curtin University was something my parents never thought would happen after I dropped out of school after completing Year 11 and then waited 15 years before studying again. With the city so far away for many in rural locations; the costs of living in the city can make attending a university not possible or needing to remain in the bush to assist with agricultural operations, online study allowed flexibility and the chance to obtain a degree which led me to further study. I moved 4500km for my graduate studies due to the #datadrought

NT: MARY: ‪ I’m doing my grad cert remote health with Flinders Uni and I’ve complained to them that living remote + study usually = no being able to complete certain topics because of being unable to access you tube, Skype etc via current internet issues. It seems to generally fall on deaf ears as more institutions embrace online education‪. As a remote area nurse living 2.5 hrs out of Alice Springs on the Plenty Hwy and trying to do a grad cert online we’ve been experiencing the frustrations of poor service from the carrier we have to use. I had to spend close to $1000 on texts because I couldn’t rely on the internet. As it is I have an arrangement with the lecturer that I can submit work when I go into Alice Springs once a month. I’m close to throwing it all away as I am so frustrated by the internet speeds and not be able to access coursework on YouTube. Skymesh’s solution was to use the internet at 3am because it was less crowded.

QLD: JULIE: ‪ My story is not as bad as some but still frustrating. I live about 25 km South of a small town called Proserpine. Unfortunately for us we are not entitled to ADSL as our exchange and lines are not up to scratch and they won’t be up graded as it’s not affordable apparently. So we have 3G wireless at the moment we get 16g for $90 a month with very slow down load which isn’t much with 4 children using it for school work and a business to run !! I went to Telstra to see if there are any better plans or could we get access to NBN only to be told we couldn’t get NBN when people just across the river can get it! And sorry we can’t give you any better deals as its too expensive for them to offer us anything better. I have family that are 20 mins from us who can get 200G up to unlimited for the $60 mark which is very frustrating as well!! With schools requiring us to assess our emails to receive newsletters or important information , kids need to access the school pages to get info for homework and assignments it becomes very upsetting and frustrating when we get half way through the month and have no data left and can’t access our emails or get the info we need !! I would to date have at least 500+ emails I have not read because it uses too much download. We also have a business to try and run which doesn’t help either. I just wish the government would for once look after rural first and get us up to where everyone else is at the current time and then look at improving EVERYONE from there!! We still have a tower that is about 20 mins from us as the crow flies that is being held up with Baling twine from when Cyclone Ului hit us in 2010 and have recently had a fire in the hill near us and the fix is to run cables above ground for who knows how long! I don’t understand why rural people are not entitled to the same as city folk we all pay rates and we all contribute to the communities I hope someone starts to listen to the rural people and helps us all out.

SA: KERRY: Earlier this year our daughter had to return home from boarding school for health reasons. It didn’t take long to realise there was no way we could run a secondary and a primary distance education classroom on our satellite internet plan. Now we drive an hour each way on a very rough dirt road to access the nearest primary school for my son, with 8 students, and use mobile broadband in the town for my daughter. The school is only open 4 days a week. I am just grateful that we have this option as many don’t. I also gave up my job cooking at the station (my husband is a manager) and we hired a cook. Next year we are sending my son away to boarding school a year earlier than we hoped. I am considering moving to town as I will also be studying at uni online next year. Tips? – I have turned off the wifi so now there is only one device online and I’ve disabled the antivirus from updating automatically. I do this manually at the end of each month (probably not recommended!).

QLD: BOOREECO: We have twin boys doing prep through CSDE,up until march this year we had no problems with the internet then it has just got worse until now we have used our Data up by the second week of the month and the web sessions are always dropping out or we can’t even get iconnect to work some days, the boys have had to go back to sharing a computer which frustrates them. We basically were told by NBN to live with it. The boys are doing well through this schooling but we are seriously considering sending them to school next year because of the internet problems.

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QLD: JOCELYN:‪ First started off with satellite with 1gb at around about $150 a month with one child via Distance Education the 4gb was over $400 so if we went over we still stayed under $400 mark. Then Telstra upgraded the satellites installed new ones but we didn’t put one on as they were still pricey. So rang them up to see what else we could get has we don’t have mobile service here. They said we could get the mobile wifi with a yagi antenna. We put that all up ourselves it was good we were getting 3 bars at the time. By this time we had two in the schoolroom But the last 6 months it went down hill we had no bars at all but could still get on the net. We heard the mines mounds were interfering with it some how they had to turn the tower around ? We were still coping. Then the last 3 months it was dropping in and out girls were missing out on their lessons they were getting upset they wanted to be on their with their mates. It just got worse it would work right up until they had to get on for their lesson we had no service at all. So we had to pack all the school work up that was required for that lesson most of the time we forgot something cause it would always be the last minute thing one girl would be still trying to get on while other was getting their shit together. We would then jump in the car and drive until we got mobile service. Sit in the car and attend their lessons. The lessons were one after the other by that time the laptop would be running low on battery so you would have to race back to the station put it on the charge for 10mins then race back down again. So there were lots of tears in this month trying to get school done. One day we did get on for a lesson we were all excited because we didn’t have to go and get in the car only to be told by a teacher who ever hadn’t watched the video had to get off the lesson now!!!. Well if we could of got on the net we would of watched it. So that was another kick in the guts. But we kept poking along even though it was very stressing you just had to. So thanks to Kristy Sparrow and the tech guy from around this area and the big guys for putting us on a trial run for ADSL everything seems to be working fine only when the power went off the other night the modem has now got no wifi so they are sending out a replacement.

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QLD: TAMMY:
2014 I decided distance education was the preferred way for my son to attend school. Our local high school is a 100klm round trip. The trial of distance was a complete failure. We were using 25-30 gig a month, he was unable to stream at least one class a day and all the others were constant drop outs reloading and sheer frustration leading to my son having to watch the recorded class later that night once we were able to load it. It was double the work double the time and extremely frustrating. We couldn’t upload assignments in the drop boxes we couldn’t do much at all. I decided it was much better to drive him an hour each way daily to attend regular high school as his marks were suffering terribly. Now I drive him there head home work the farm during the day then drive back to collect him and bring him home, that equals 210 klm a day almost four hours driving for me and a whole lot of fuel. I battle with his school regularly as they send home homework that required Internet research, watching a certain movie etc etc . It is exhausting to say the least. Due to a severe bout of qfever I have had to enlist the help of another person to transport him until I am well. I am one of the lucky ones that has a school within driving distance no matter how great still doable. But I would rather drive 1000klm + a week to know that my child is getting a good education and access to all classes and subjects.

QLD: KELLIE: Up until July this year our 3 children were continuing their high school studies through Charters Towers Distance Ed. (Grades 12, 10 & 8). All 3 were doing exceptionally well until the satellite NBN cuts at the beginning of the year, ours by nearly 80%. Trying to juggle audio lessons and making sure that we weren’t using the Internet for other than school finally took its toll with our monthly download exhausted after only 10 school days. Between the 3 children they could easily use 2-3G a day. 20g in the peak period for the month was ridiculous. The younger 2 sacrificed their peak periods for their older sister. They would be up during off-peak periods (12.01 am to 8 am) just to listen to recordings so they didn’t get too far behind. I was up before them, some mornings at 3 am just to check emails or do banking etc for our business. When assessments or exams were due we would drive to the highway to get signal just to email them to teachers. We looked into antennas to try and bounce signals as we don’t have any mobile reception, but they didn’t work. I had another quote for someone to set up a 3G connection but that was going to be over $20,000. The nearest high school is 1 1/2 hours one way, me moving to town wasn’t an option. After nearly 3 months of trying to balance it out the younger two came to us a suggested boarding school might ease the stress we were all dealing with. Our grade 12 wants to go to Uni next year and she needs to be able to study. R & C started at TGS in July. It broke all our hearts when we drove away from them, and still does. We had another 4 years planned with home schooling sadly next year we will have an empty nest. I still believe Dist Ed is great but being ‘geographically isolated’ should not be an issue in this day and age. TIPS: Keep the communication open & talk to your teachers, ours were amazing and totally understood the frustration and stress we were dealing with.

QLD: TINE: I am the resident principal of a remote school. Our internet service at school is poor and we often cannot open links in the national curriculum. My school email service is unreliable and access to professional webinars is almost non-existent. I have a close friend on a cattle station trying to run a huge business and educate grandchildren by Distance Education, both of which are impossible tasks being limited to 2gb per month. I keep her updated on what is happening on this Facebook site but she cannot access it herself due to lack of Internet. These stories break my heart. It is all too widely spread. We have bush children, whose parents know the value of education, having their futures compromised simply because of bureaucratic bungling and heartlessness.

NSW: SHARON OSBOURNE: Arrived home tonight to discover that our slow internet has become no internet! Rather frustrating on the day before my son’s HSC exam in IT.

QLD: CHRISTIE: This NBN Fair Use policy is anything but fair. Today for the first time the service in our schoolroom has exceeded our allowance, a whole 10GB!!! Now my children will be unable to do their on air lessons until our data is reset (over a week). How can it be fair to deny kids their right to education? IT has been a constant battle educating our three children out here on the station, a battle which stepped up to another level earlier in the year with the onset of NBN’s “Fair Use Policy”. Speeds are painfully slow and now we have to constantly monitor usage so we don’t go over our allowance and get shaped. Shaped means we pretty much have no internet and the kids can’t do their class lessons. It can be difficult for some to understand why the speed issue is such a big issue but I would say to just imagine you are trying to complete a task which involves you driving from A to B, travel time usually 5 mins but on the way your vehicle breaks down 10 times and each time it takes you one minute to get going. Your 5 min job has suddenly taken 15 mins and this happens with EVERY single job you undertake throughout your day!!! Hence it is glaringly obvious that Internet issues are a massive impediment to GDP growth! My advice to all is to MAKE SOME NOISE because this issue is one for all Australians. We sacrificed data for our business to give to the schoolroom, I am about to change providers for the third time in 3 years. I am constantly looking for a better deal and access and have spent countless hours on the phone to providers, MPs offices, ombudsman and this website! It is my opinion that the Australian government (past and present) has made a complete botch of Internet in this country. We live in a global world and to compete on we need communications infrastructure of the highest standards, it is such a disgrace. We struggle to educate our children and run our businesses! ‪#datadrought ‪#fixitnow. It’s shameful that we are left in this position, unaffordable education options and no internet to educate our children ourselves. It Seems to me that rural Australia is not valued.

QLD: MEGAN:‪ 5 kids in a remote Cattle Station School room, relying on a satellite Broadband network. It is unreliable and very slow. Our maximum tested speed at peak time was 1.5mp/s download and .05mbp/s upload. The kids are relying for a month on 20gb between 5 of them. They EACH have a compulsory 1hour on air lesson with their school teachers who are in School of the Air in Mt Isa every day and rely on numerous online learning support programs which they no longer can access or utilise due to restrictions on data and poor speeds. Restrictions and data limits by the network provider have resulted in this 20GB/month allowance. We have 25GB to use also, but this is during off peak periods only. O/night only. Kids obviously can’t benefit from night time usage. We have no current alternative method of Internet as we don’t have access to mobile service at all due to remote location. It is frustrating but not much can be done about it at the moment. It is just another example of modern learning tools within education being rolled out without the rollout of additional technological system advances in remote Australia.

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QLD: GLORIA: Our story isn’t as sad as those before me. Our sons attend the local high school which is 20 mins drive. We live in a hilly area. Our landline speed is slow and lines not being replaced. We use a 4 g advances11 modem wifi unit. On its own we receive 1 bar .we were told to attach an outside Omni antenna and attach cable which we did ourselves. This gives 3bars depending on the weather. So we have 8g a month this would be used up within 2 days if not careful. The unit is turned off as soon as the boys are finished with it. The school laptops had 2g a month( laptop roll out by Mr Rudd) this finishes this year with my year 11 son. Assignments handed in also have research booklets so teachers can see where the info is from so up to 40 sites are visited and half of those downloaded.I usually arrange for the boys to visit their aunt in town to do this heavy work load. The draft copies of assignments are emailed to teachers and then mailed back to students. We run out of our data sometimes a week into our month. My son was waiting for a email from his teacher for an assignment to be handed in the following day. We had to get into the car to go looking for service. As soon as he called out I’ve got it. We stopped to download the work. The beach is our favorite place to go as there is 5 bars.( a day at the beach). But that is while we have the 2g on laptops. We have looked into a yaggi antenna and waiting to find out where to buy one from. Sites to catch 3bars at our house( end of sons bed, front of house on veranda, down beside the Chook pen, standing on the edge of the veranda on one leg. ) Difficult in cyclone season. I would like to increase the data up to next level but we would still use it all very quickly. Telstra did upgrade the tower to4g but we are in a black spot and therefore a 3G area. We turned the modem down to 3G. I really would love to see some improvements. It’s not nice crying on the shoulder of some young Telstra technician because he can’t help. True. Thank you to Kristy and friends for giving us this opportunity. At this point in time I am at the beach (20 minute drive from home) and no not building sand castles. The boys are doing school work.

NSW: ADELE: I’m so over it 2 assignments to go and I cannot finish my 3 year course because our internet is so slow I can’t even get pics up at the moment let alone get emails in and out. I’ve already had a 90 day extension on my course and if I don’t get this assignment in by the end of the month I have just lost 3 years of study and a lot of money.

 QLD: SANCIA: After 12 months of being unable to log into iconnect and the frustrations that this brought to our schoolroom. We had 5G for 2 children with another due to start eKindy in2016 via school of the air. Having disengaged kids at the ages of 5 and 8 we decided to pack the kids up and I moved 1500km away and my husband stayed at home. Some would say why so far. We see the big picture and realise that the kids will require secondary schooling down the track and it is not on offer locally. This move has placed financial and emotional hardships upon us however our kids only get one chance at an education and this was being compromised by the difficulties we faced with the national curriculum and the technology available.  Sancia’s story made the media

QLD: AMY: Yes this is also the exact reason, we have also split our family up to seek a schooling system that works

QLD: JUSTINE: From a tertiary perspective no, I am not confident about the future of education in the bush. Many choose to study uni externally for many reasons and it is increasingly difficult to be able to do this on limited internet. I have a daughter studying a double degree. Poor internet forces her to travel into town to use library Internet, she is lucky she can do this as many can not.

SA: TANYA: Our schooling is done through Moodle, this is where our girls access all their set work, they also attend SABA air lessons, I have two high school age girls and combined they sit 18 air lessons a week, they vary in time from 30 mins to 1 hour? We do not use video to participate for obvious reasons! ‪#datadrought We get ‘shaped’ about 2 weeks into our monthly plan. I then have to drive to town so the girls could access our BigPond 3G mobile broadband to do air lessons. This month I come into range to receive a message from Activ8, so much for my slowed shaped plan! (Always slow even without the shaping) now they will suspend our service when it gets to 50gb!! I pay for a 60gb plan, (40gb peak time) home schooling is made so hard with our internet service.

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SA: JILL: I have taught my 3 daughters via SOTA in SA and I only have 1 term to go before my youngest goes to boarding school. We need to keep fighting as it is a huge issue for families. There are SOTA families in SA that drive many hours to download the curriculum for the coming week as their plans are getting shaped making it too slow to even download the school work, which is 100% on a Moodle. Our internet lessons with the teachers often drop out and the kids aren’t able to use the camera due to poor internet. Thanks for all of your hard work!

QLD: SHARON: I have recently moved to my inlaws property in Cape York where the only option is satellite. I am school my son who is in year six and my daughter starts prep next year. it is very frustrating when my son cant join his class lessons or watch the videos required for a class. we don’t know how we are going to do it. I also wished that the school would make that there was less the kids needed to do on the net as they know how bad it is.

QLD: BRONWYN: I have a daughter starting year 11 next year, who already suffers due to our ‘data drought’. We can only afford the 8gb wireless plan. A few months ago our data usage jumped dramatically with no change in our devices or our internet habits… Of course Telstra were so helpful, escalating investigation after investigation with no answers. So usually a week or two in each cycle we are shaped & can’t even load Google. Yet two years ago I was only barely using 5gb a month.
I find it so very frustrating that my daughter’s schooling & my business have suffered so badly as a result.

WA: DONNA: I’m from Binnu. Gero our nearest large town. Just about to be shaped on our satellite internet for the fourth month in a row. Kids sometimes don’t come home from boarding school if they have homework and our internet is shaped as they can’t complete their studies.

 WA: RAELENE: I watched Lateline last night and again my heart ached for those who are struggling with the internet -both for education and business.  I sat at the ICPA conference and watched the despair and anguish on the faces’ of members who got no answers to their problems at all -just told all will be well when the new long term satellite goes up next year.  Sorry -not bloody good enough. These people need help and they need it right now. Not being fobbed off for another 12 months or longer (is there any 100% guaranteed date the LTS will be up and running??).  Surely to goodness somewhere in this world there is an answer for these people. If politicians can travel the world then send them to some countries who may have found solutions and bring it back to Australia.  Jack Beach, Federal ICPA Life Member, in opening conference spoke of how amazed he was by the availability of mobile coverage in Mongolia, even in parts of the Gobi Desert.  Will the NBN and Government just man up and say yes the ISS is stuffed and we can’t fix it and get off their backsides and find another solution for these people.  If it costs more $ so be it. This is people’s livelihoods and their children’s education that is being put on the line. Businesses can’t be put on hold and nor can children’s education.  Next thing we will have a report saying bush kids aren’t achieving as well as their city counterparts or aren’t going to Uni. Well no bloody wonder.  It isn’t damned rocket science. There is a problem which needs an urgent solution. If $ is an issue then pull some spending in other areas e.g. politician’s entitlements springs to mind or overseas aid.  Don’t keep telling people to be patient, don’t keep telling them they can only have so many GB of data, don’t keep telling them you are forming a working party to discuss the issue.  Enough discussion. We need action and we need it NOW!

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NSW: HELEN: Once again the NBN refused to acknowledge my request for a formal complaint to be made and closed the case on me. They literally told me that we already have NBN satellite so are not eligible for anything else and if it doesn’t work properly there’s nothing they can do.

So now we twiddle our thumbs waiting for emails to arrive, waiting for a page or app to load – and reload, and reload and reload again, chewing up our data. We can rarely watch YouTube clips, pod casts and webinars are out of the question, Skyping doesn’t work at all, the kids education programs constantly drop out, my online study is constantly interrupted … the list goes on. I’ve given up. I guess we’re lucky to get what we’ve got.

QLD: LINDA: We were required by our distance education teacher to watch a you tube clip before our on air, we definitely wouldn’t be able to a 25min youtube video we can’t even get on to the classes at the moment.

QLD: SAMARA: Just spent the last 20 minutes trying to email my daughters school work to her teacher…….. the frustration levels are through the roof

QLD: MRS B: Mrs B lives on a cattle station in northern Australia with her 4 children. They are enrolled in distance education on Satellite Internet. This is Mrs B’s last year on DE as it is just too hard – she has been teaching for 12 years and this year has been the hardest due to combination of inadequate Internet and technology based learning. The kids and Mrs B are moving into town,(2.5hrs away) leaving her husband on the property. Thanks for letting me share Mrs B – ” It is so sad for the bush as it is breaking families apart.”

QLD: CARLA: I know a number of families who have moved the wife and kids to town this year to go to school – previously have been distance education but internet is now unmanageable!

QLD: ELISSA: I would like to study university externally but unless I was to go town and use someone else’s internet or the library this is not possible to do so as it would involve watching videos and podcasts that uses a lot of data and at a higher speed than what is available to us. This concerns me greatly, not for myself so much, but for my children as they are starting school soon and they are going to require the internet at home and I feel they are going to be disadvantaged by this. The only solution you have given us for this problem is to move.

QLD: ALANA: You really do learn what you live … I live 120 kms west of Clermont, have been on a 20 GB satellite plan (since 2012 and prior to that had a 1 GB plan, however started married life almost 13 years ago with dial up which we had until 2005). I teach two kids via distance education, with both being on Internet lessons up to 3 hours EACH per day plus run our grazing business. Been reflecting on all the talk of how slow satellite internet is (and based on speed tests, ours is definitely that) as well as other problems with satellite services. Ironically though, having not had access to anything better (and having used much worse), I don’t notice it, or should I say don’t know any different. Sure, we often have drop outs and other ‘unexplained’ errors/problems during internet lessons, which are likely as a result of speed and other satellite internet issues that we just deal with as they arise … That’s just how we have had to learn to roll. We have only ever used over our 20 GB, and therefore been shaped, once in 4 years. As it is all we have had and our business and my children’s schooling depend upon it, we simply don’t use it for much else. I have only ever downloaded 3 movies, we don’t use any internet radio, etc. (except in the Easter holidays this year when my eldest daughter bought an iPod and it was hooked up to the network in the house. This of course was the one time we used our GBs. When school started in term two and we were shaped it was THE WORST WEEK EVER in the schoolroom, not being able to access ANYTHING and missing almost all online lessons that week until we were reset at the start of our next billing period… Let’s just say, it didn’t take much convincing my daughter to take her iPod off the network except for very important things!). My kids do not have a clue of the wealth of available technology resources that is everyday ‘normal’ for many kids their age, other than what they MUST have for school. We are lucky enough now to have a little bit of mobile coverage in the house with an antenna and repeater, however this only works intermittently and certainly cannot be relied on and generally I only use this for personal internet use.

I wanted to tell this story because I detest the thought that we experiencing the ‪#‎datadrought are considered ‘data hogs’. I also think that we need to not be seen as a bunch of whingers who want, want, want; that we are actually willing and able to be flexible and adapt to what we’ve got, even though it is grossly substandard to what may be ‘normal’ to much of the population. ‪#‎fixbushbroadband

NT: YVONNE: I have just finished 11years of schooling by de, from paper to hf radio to computer. Solely technology based is not the answer, the technology has not kept up to the curriculum requirements and if the internet is down then school is out because there is little paper based resources sent

TASMANIA: ELLA: Even the children who attend the local primary and high school in Mole Creek and Deloraine (Northern Tasmania), but live outside of the towns, will be disadvantaged when it comes to researching anything via the internet for homework. For anyone wanting to study at uni make sure it is on campus study, because you won’t be getting anything done online, unless you show up to use the wifi on campus. Rural students at university have enough barriers to their study as it is, the #datadrought is just another one.

NSW: DONNA: At the moment I have one distance ed child (yr4 via NEPSODE in NSW), and two high schoolers that attend the high school in town. We are on 15GB/mth. 5GB/peak, 10GB/off peak, ABG IPSTAR. Distance ed, majority of our work is paper based, with USBs supplied for most video’s. But we use the internet a lot, for more information on subjects/projects, and for resources to help with/complete set work. We now try to get all work done before peak times start in the morning, as the high school kids need to use the internet for their homework/study in the afternoons/nights (peak time). When we get shaped, and we need the internet for school things, we end up outside, sometimes in the yard or paddock to use my mobile as a hot spot (lucky to find one bar of coverage in/around the house), because the sat internet simply doesn’t load at all. We have one lesson a week on the phone with his teacher, we have that outside via my mobile, as our VoIP hasn’t worked in nearly a year, and we have no land line here. Some weeks we skip his phone lessons as we can’t get good enough mobile coverage to understand his teacher or vise-versa. I have no idea how anybody affords to pay for more data, $70/mth is as much as we can afford… Any updating of devices, we do at my sons house in town, we simply can not update anything, we can’t spare the data because we need it for school.

QLD: KYLIE: We are enrolled in a distance education school, my child is in Year 6. We have never had access to the internet as we were very confused about how it worked, we never had an email so we couldn’t apply to get connected. My childs’ school has said we can’t continue if we don’t have the internet but we have nothing available to us.

QLD: MRS C: are enrolled in a distance education school and have access to the internet during most of the year, however Mrs C’s husband is a drover and sometimes she wishes to spend time on the road with her husband and two students. When Mrs C approached the distance education school she was turned away and told to go to another school as she didn’t have ‘reliable access to internet’

QLD: JAYE: I am not usually one to go public with complaints but our phone has been out for over 3 weeks, they were meant to have a technician come on the 28th of April to fix it and nobody turned up. Obviously we have no mobile service here so we are always emailing a friend or family to ring for us to find out what is going on and the next date to fix it was meant to be today and when our neighbour rang them for us, they have now said a technician might be out on the 20th of May. Our kids need the phone to do school of the air and we bend over backwards out here to get our children an education but it is really hard when it is out of our control and Telstra doesn’t seem to care. (I like it though that if you are a day late with the money for them, you get a $15 fine) When I drove to town to ring about it, they told me…”You do know there are floods on in NSW” to which I replied, “You do know we are in the middle of a 3 yr drought in Qld”. Then they promised a sat phone when I aired my concerns about the kids not being able to do their schooling…that was meant to come a week ago. I can do without the phone but my main concern is the kids education that is suffering because of it all. A week or so, I was prepared to put up with but I find 5 weeks hard to accept.

VIC: KIRSTIE:

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 AUST WIDE: BIRRR: Those involved in education MUST be educated that not everyone has access to internet connections that city people take for granted. If you are a teacher, lecturer etc and have students living the ‪#‎datadrought , have you spread the word about this issue ? Have you informed other staff at your school / uni that this is a significant issue for students ? We want everyone to know about the #datadrought and the effects it is having on learning in regional areas, so please if you can, spread the #datadrought love

Here’s some tips:

  1. Check the size of your emails you are sending to students/families.
  2. Realise that many online homework sites are very data hungry
  3. Understand that researching on the net is limiting for many students (how about giving them a couple of pre-researched links instead of the whole of google)
  4. Understand that many students have unreliable speeds and drop out issues
  5. Refer people to BIRRR website birrraus.com

Learn more about the #datadrought and how it impacts education in these video clips:

http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2015/s4324687.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2015/s4292363.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-25/nrn-minister27s-nbn-promises-fails-to-placate-internet-anger/6723644

https://www.facebook.com/pip.courtney/videos/10153170095694107/

Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow, some names and identifying locations have been changed.